BARSSEGH. Will you ever learn how to do it?
BARSSEGH. If you keep on being so stupid my business will be ruined.
BARSSEGH. I give you my word that I will give you the sack.
BARSSEGH. Measure further.
MICHO. Five—[aside:]; Holy George, help me! [Aloud:] Six. I cannot stretch it any more or I shall tear it.
BARSSEGH. Measure, now.
MICHO. O dear; I believe it is already torn.
BARSSEGH [looking at the cloth]. I see nothing. God forbid!
MICHO [looking at the measure]. It is short a half werschok of seven arschin every time.
The madman, Mosi, comes in at the middle door and stands in the background.
BARSSEGH [hitting Micho on the head]. What are you good for? Can’t you get that half werschok out of it?
MICHO [howling.] What am I to do when the cloth is too short?
BARSSEGH [pulling his hair]. Are you sure you’re not lying?
MICHO [yelling.] How can you say that? Measure it yourself and we shall see whether there are seven arschin here.
BARSSEGH [angry; taking measure and calico]. You say there are not seven here? Wait, I will show you [measuring.] One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and a quarter left over for a present to you. What do you say about it now? You must learn to measure if you burst doing it. But you think only of your week’s pay. Now, hurry up; be lively there!
MICHO. O heaven! How shall I begin? One, two—
BARSSEGH. Be careful and don’t tear it.
MICHO [crying.] What do you want of me? If I pull on the stuff I tear it; and if I don’t stretch it, no seven arschin will come out of it.
MOSI [coming near]. Ha! ha! ha! Who
is the toper? Who? ’Tis I; the mad
Mosi. Ha! ha! ha!
BARSSEGH [aside.] How comes this crazy fellow here?
MOSI [seizing the measure and calico].
Give it to me, you booby! There are not only
seven arschin here, but twenty-seven [measuring
quickly]. One, two, four, six, eight, ten,
twelve, and here are thirteen and fourteen. Do
you want me to make still more out of it? You
must shove the stick back in measuring. Can’t
you understand that? [Throws the stick and calico
upon Micho.] Here, take it and be a man at last.
You the shop-boy of such a great merchant and not
find out a little thing like that. Haven’t
you learned yet how to steal half a werschok?
Ha, ha, ha!
[Micho tries to free himself but becomes more
entangled in the cloth.
BARSSEGH [to Mosi], I forbid such impudent talk in my presence! Be silent, or I’ll show you.